Central Coast 1 Western Sydney 1
2013 A-League Video Highlights: Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners
A late goal from substitute Tomi Juric earned Western Sydney Wanderers a point against Central Coast as last season's A-League grand finalists slugged their way to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.PT0M57S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2vfta 620 349 October 12, 2013
When the Western Sydney Wanderers entered the league, few thought their matches against Central Coast would come to symbolise as much as they do now.
A year on from when they first played, it's one of the A-League edgiest rivalries. Saturday night at Bluetongue Stadium only added another chapter.
Mariners v Wanderers
Mariners Marcos Flores in action. Photo: Anthony Johnson
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Duke (55min)||Goals||Juric (87min)|
The Mariners thought they had this one won. Three points in the bag, it seemed, after Mitch Duke's 55th minute opener.
Not that Central Coast had a divine right to them. The Wanderers, who had the better of things for the most part, deserved to get something.
Time was running out when Youssouf Hersi, deep on the right and under close pressure, hugged the touchline and swung in a hopeful cross towards Tomi Juric.
It was no better than a half-chance, but that was all the new signing needed. Attacking the cross with kamikaze intent, he soared through the air to volley home the equaliser.
A deserved point was secured and the 7000 or so Wanderers fans who made the journey north would go home content. It would not qualify as revenge for losing the grand final, but denying their conquerors of last year will at least suffice for now.
“I thought we deserved a bit more but we didn't score when we were dominating in the first half,” said Wanderers coach Tony Popovic. “When you get those opportunities, you've got to put them away – especially when you're playing a very good side away from home.”
Yet this 90 minutes also demonstrated why Graham Arnold's Mariners will be there at the business end. They're too cunning to fall short.
“I think you can put the goal we conceded down to running out of legs, because of the extended ACL [Asian Champions League] campaign last season,” Arnold said. “At one stage, we had four players putting their hands up to come off … but overall, I think it was a good point and we're disappointed we didn't keep the three.”
The match took on an added subtext during the morning when news filtered through that Holger Osieck had been sacked at Socceroos coach – because both Popovic and Arnold have been mentioned as potential successors.
Neither coach wanted to give an inch in front of a capacity crowd and perhaps it was fitting that the end result didn't split them. They'd both make fine managers of the national team.
Arnold has contended throughout the off-season that while his Mariners may be the champion club, a series of player losses means they're no champion team. There was evidence to support that assessment, especially in the first half.
There was a decent tempo from the opening but it was the Wanderers who seemed keener to press the issue as the Mariners adopted a more cautious approach.
Wanderers' striker Mark Bridge gave Justin Pasfield a scare with a double-effort from an acute angle but the keeper did enough to keep his close friend at bay before Hersi blasted the rebound over the bar. In the second half, they'd be punished for squandering such chances.
Ten minutes into the last stanza, the oncoming Josh Rose took possession in midfield and found Marcos Flores drifting into dangerous space. He showed patience to draw a man and free space for Duke down the right. Collecting a beautifully weighted ball, Duke then showed equal finesse to chip Ante Covic.
How lovely it was to see the Adelaide United version of Flores, not the Melbourne Victory one.
But sensing his team were about to head home with nothing, Popovic played his trump cards on the hour mark. Ono was introduced and Juric followed, giving the visitors an extra jab of firepower.
It would prove an inspired move when Juric got his foot to the winner. After such big wraps on him during the off-season, it was a surprise to see the striker start on the bench. Don't expect him to be there next week.